Sutton, London

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For the wider Borough, see London Borough of Sutton.

Coordinates: 51°21′56″N 0°11′47″W / 51.3656°N 0.1963°W / 51.3656; -0.1963

Barclays bank Sutton High Street Surrey.JPG
Trinity Church Sutton.JPG Fountain in Manor Park, Sutton. - - 33425.jpg
Sutton, Surrey London Sutton High Street -.JPG Sutton Surrey London Sutton Heritage mosaic wall.JPG

From top, left to right: Bank building in the Sutton Town Centre High Street Crossroads Conservation Area;[1] Trinity Church; Fountain in Manor Park; Sutton High Street; Sutton Heritage Mosaic public art.

Sutton is located in Greater London
 Sutton shown within Greater London
Population 41,483 (Sutton Central, Sutton West, Sutton North, Sutton South wards)[2]
OS grid reference TQ255645
    - Charing Cross 10.5 mi (16.9 km)  NNE
London borough Sutton
Ceremonial county Greater London
Region London
Country England
Sovereign state United Kingdom
Post town SUTTON
Postcode district SM1 SM2 SM3
Dialling code 020
Police Metropolitan
Fire London
Ambulance London
EU Parliament London
UK Parliament Sutton and Cheam
London Assembly Croydon and Sutton
List of places

Sutton is a large suburban town on the lower slopes of the North Downs in South West London, England, which has the administrative headquarters of the London Borough of Sutton. It is located 10.5 miles (16.9 km) south-south west of Charing Cross and is one of the major metropolitan centres identified in the London Plan.[3]

The town was connected to central London by rail in 1847, spurring significant Victorian-era expansion, both commercially and residentially. An ancient parish in the county of Surrey, Sutton further expanded and increased in population as part of the suburban growth of London in the 20th century. It became a municipal borough with neighbouring Cheam in 1934, and has formed part of Greater London since 1965.[4] It now constitutes a significant civic and retail district.

Sutton is a vibrant town[5][6] with a theatre, much public art, a large library, many restaurants, four conservation areas and a park and green at either end of the high street. It has a significant business sector and the sixth most important shopping area in London, centred around Sutton High Street. Along with Wimbledon Studios, Sutton is a hub for filming in south-west London.[7] The town benefits from very low crime by London standards (see Crime in London).

Road traffic is diverted away from a largely pedestrianised town centre, and Sutton mainline railway station is the largest in the borough, with frequent services to central London among other destinations.

The town is home to a significant number of the borough's schools, within a borough which is a grammar school stronghold and a top performing authority for education in the country.

Most of Sutton, including the town centre, falls under the SM1 postcode area, though places south of Sutton railway station are part of SM2 instead. The population of the town, comprising the Sutton Central, Sutton West, Sutton North and Sutton South wards, was 41,483 in the 2011 census.

A majority of the town's population is in the ABC1 social group.[8]


Origin of the name[edit]

Sutton (parish) population
1881 10,334
1891 13,977
1901 17,223
1911 21,270
1921 21,063
1931 27,989
Absorbed by
Sutton and Cheam parish
source: UK census[9]

The placename Sutton is recorded in the 1086 Domesday Book as Sudtone.[10] It is formed from Old English 'sūth' and 'tūn', meaning 'the south farm'. It was probably in relation to Mitcham and Morden that it was considered southerly.[10] The name was later applied to Sutton Common and the Sutton New Town development in the 19th century.[10]

Pre 1700[edit]

Archaeological finds in the region date back over ten thousand years, but the first substantial evidence of habitation comes from the excavation of a Roman villa in Beddington. The Roman road of Stane Street forms part of the northern boundary of the parish of Sutton. The course of Stane Street through the area is now followed by the modern roads Stonecot Hill and London Road, and designated A24 on road maps.

William The Conqueror's Domesday Book of 1086 assesses Sudtone:

In the time of King Edward it was assessed at 30 hides; now at 8½ hides. There are 2 carucates in the demesne, and 29 villains and 4 cottars with 13 carucates. There are 2 churches, and 2 bondmen, and 2 acres (8,100 m2) of meadow. The wood yields 10 swine. In the time of King Edward it was valued at 20 pounds, now at 15 pounds.

The Domesday Book also states that the Abbot of Chertsey held the Manor. This remained so until 1538 when the Manor was sold to King Henry VIII, along with the manors of Ebisham (Epsom), Coulsdon, and Horley. They were all then granted to Sir Nicholas Carew of Beddington in that same year. When Sir Nicholas was sentenced to death for treason, the King seized the manors, and they remained possessions of the Crown until King Edward VI granted part of them to Thomas, Lord of D'Arcy of Cliché, but kept the Manors of Sutton, Ebisham and Coulsdon.[11] Queen Mary later restored the whole of these manors to Francis, only son of Sir Nicholas Carew. At a later date, and for unknown reasons, the Manor once more became possession of the Crown until King Charles II granted it to the Duke of Portland in 1663, who sold it in 1669 to Sir Robert Long, who sold it that same year to Sir Richard Mason. The Manor sold almost all of its land and has regularly changed hands since.[11]

From the time of Domesday until the 19th century establishment of local government and disestablishment of hundred courts, Sutton formed a parish in the Wallington hundred of Surrey, in the feudal system.[12][13] However, by the time of Richard II, the parish was not required to do suit and pay feudal dues at the Hundred Court—probably the parish was exempt on account of liberties enjoyed by its lord.[14]

1700 to 1900[edit]

The point of junction of the turnpikes today
High Street, Sutton, Xmas Show Week, Christmas 1910

In 1755, a turnpike road from London to Brighton was constructed, meeting with a turnpike road from Carshalton to Ewell which was constructed at the same time. The toll bars for Cheam Road and Brighton Road were originally located at right angles to each other by the Cock Hotel, a coaching inn that sat on the south-east corner of the junction of the turnpikes. The toll bar for Carshalton Road was where the police station is now, though the existence of this toll bar is disputed. All three of these toll bars moved further away from the junction after a number of years to account for the growth in Sutton's size. The northmost toll bar was situated where Rosehill is now. The toll bars remained in effect until 1882.

Regular contact beyond the town brought both expansion and sophistication. Small businesses opened up, at first directly related to travellers on the turnpike – bakers and brewers to feed visitors, seamstresses to provide running repairs and leather workers to make or mend harnesses – and then to provide trade goods for neighbouring communities.[15]

Sutton railway station was opened on 10 May 1847. Likely due to the new, fast link to central London, Sutton's population more than doubled between 1851 and 1861, and the village became a town. New housing to accommodate this growth was constructed in the Lind Road area, and called the "New Town". Today, a pub on the corner of Lind Road and Greyhound Road is named The New Town. Sutton Water Company was incorporated in 1863, and the provision of water mains finally allowed houses to be built outside of the area defined by the water-yielding Thanet Sands. The Lord of the Manor at the time, Mr Thomas Alcock, sold land that was previously unsuitable for residential buildings, making it available for new construction. Sutton's population more than doubled again in the next ten years between 1861 and 1871.

The 1894 London and Provincial bank building, as seen today

The High Street near the top was known as Cock Hill until the 1880s – the shops on the east side were built in 1880, ten years later than those on the west side.[16] A notable building to appear around this time was the grand and decorative London and Provincial Bank building (now home to Barclays Bank), which was built overlooking the historic crossroads in 1894.[17] By 1900 the High Street had become heavily built up.[18] By the late 1930s some of the shops had inevitably altered, but the buildings above remained much the same.

20th Century[edit]

During World War II bombing was not as heavy as in central London; despite this, the Commonwealth War Graves Commission lists 187 civilian casualties for Sutton and Cheam.

In 1959 a local resident, George Edgar Alcock, started a campaign to preserve a unique avenue of Copper Beech trees. This campaign led the same year to the formation of the The Sutton and Cheam Society, a local amenity group which still exists today and of which Mr Alcock was secretary for many years. A plaque commemorating his life is situated at the junction of the road Christchurch Park with Brighton Road.[19]


Sutton came within the area of the Metropolitan Police District in 1840. The parish authorities lost control of poor relief in 1834 when the parish was grouped into Epsom Poor Law Union. This led to the parish forming part of the Epsom Rural Sanitary District from 1875. The parish of Sutton adopted the Local Government Act 1858 in 1882 and a local board was formed to govern the area, which was constituted a local government district. The Local Government Act 1894 reformed it as Sutton Urban District, governed by an urban district council. In 1928 the area of the urban district was expanded, by the addition of the parish of Cheam. The urban district was renamed to Sutton and Cheam to reflect this. The urban district council successfully petitioned for a charter of incorporation and the town became a municipal borough in 1934. Having only nominal existence within a municipal borough, the civil parishes were merged in 1949.[12] The municipal borough was abolished in 1965 and its former area became part of the London Borough of Sutton in Greater London.

For Westminster elections, Sutton is part of the Sutton and Cheam constituency, which was formed in 1945.


Geology, soil and elevations[edit]

Sutton is one of several towns located on a narrow bed of Thanet Sands which extends from Croydon in the east, to Epsom in the west. To the south of this belt is chalk of the North Downs, and to the north is clay. The belt of Thanet sands allowed wells to provide clean water, whereas the clay to the north mostly offered surface water of unsuitable quality. This feature attracted settlements to the sand belt from a very early date. In 1863 the Sutton and Cheam Water Company began to supply water to the parish of Sutton. It is now part of the Sutton and East Surrey Water.[20]

Elevations range from 115m AOD in the south of Belmont (a contiguous neighbourhood formerly considered part of the town) (or 85m on the borders of the two places, south of the railway station)[21] to 29-33m in the Sutton Common and Benhilton neighbourhoods which are north of the High Street and at the start of the Pyl Brook, the major tributary of the Beverley Brook.[22]


Ornate commercial architecture in Sutton High St.
The historic crossroads within the Town Centre Conservation Area
Bank building at the historic crossroads
Sutton High St in the conservation area

Sutton is mainly the product of the railways, which arrived in the town in the mid-nineteenth century. So, although it already existed (as a village with coaching inns) in the horse and carriage era, most of the town's earliest architecture is Victorian. A number of buildings - for example St Nicholas Church (see below) - do, however, date from before the Victorian era.

The High Street and the central area housing has a majority of Victorian architecture; Edwardian architecture is also represented, especially among the town's housing stock, as are a variety of more recent eras and styles from the 1930s (including some art deco and moderne) right up to the 21st century.

The two most prominent examples of 21st century buildings are the Aspects of Sutton apartment building and the Lamborne. Aspects was created out of a former office building; it was reclad in a terracotta colour and three additional floors were added at the top to house a number of penthouses, and, with a total of eighteen floors, it can be seen from across Sutton. By contrast, the slightly less tall Docklands-style Lamborne block of flats is totally newly built; it is finished in white with wooden inserts and is balconied throughout.

Conservation areas[edit]

There are four Conservation areas in the town of Sutton itself (among several others within the wider borough). One of these is in the town centre, while the other three are residential—Landseer Road, Sutton Garden Suburb and Grove Avenue.[23]

The Sutton Town Centre High Street Crossroads Conservation Area

The Sutton Town Centre High Street Crossroads Conservation Area was designated on 9 May 2011, following a review of the town centre, which highlighted the historic importance of the highway network at the crossroads of Cheam Road/ Carshalton Road and the High Street, as well as the associated buildings and spaces. The Conservation Area focuses on the area around the historic crossroads, and stretches from the Station down to Trinity Square. The local authority noted that the buildings, especially their upper storeys, were worthy of preservation and enhancement. "Treasuring and enhancing" the area would help to promote a stronger local identity; the regeneration of Sutton town centre; increased visitor numbers; and support for retailers and a vibrant town centre.[1]

Gordon Rookledge in his "Sutton Architectural Identifier" remarks on the "vivid, Victorian, polychrome brick and stone façades" in his description of Sutton High Street.[23]

Ornate Edwardian houses in the Landseer Road Conservation Area.
Landseer Road Conservation Area

Landseer Road Conservation Area includes Landseer Road itself plus the nearby Bridgefield Road, York Road, Derby Road, Cecil Road and Salisbury Avenue.

The development of these roads began in the late nineteenth century and was fully completed in 1913. The roads are lined with, according to Gordon Rookledge, the "finest, detailed Edwardian detached and semi-detached houses" in Sutton Borough.[23]

The Sutton Garden Suburb Conservation Area

The Sutton Garden Suburb is in North Sutton. Thomas Wall, famous for his sausages and ice cream, developed the Sutton Garden Suburb between 1912 and 1914. This suburb contributed to the Garden City movement that was originally conceived by Ebenezer Howard and was similar to the development of the Hampstead Garden Suburb in North London. It was designated a conservation area in 1989. Designed by F. Cavendish Pearson, it has an integrated house and landscape design, some secreted around small greens and others along well-planted avenues.[23]

Grove Avenue Conservation Area

Grove Avenue Conservation Area was built as a private estate in the 1920s or early 1930s. Here the properties consist of single blocks, each containing four maisonettes, presenting a symmetrical facade to the road. The blocks are alternately built in modernist, or half timbered styles. Many of the details survive, including iron-framed windows, hand-painted number and instruction boards, garage facades, front-garden walls, tree plantings and the estate gate-piers.[23]


Grade II listed Trinity Methodist church in Sutton town centre

Three main churches are in the town centre: Trinity Church, which is a Methodist church; St. Nicholas Church (Anglican), and Sutton Baptist Church. Trinity Church and St Nicholas Church are opposite each other on the western street parallel to the High Street, while the Baptist Church is situated nearby, in Cheam Road. The Salvation Army have a centre for meetings and helping people through problems in Benhill Avenue. Among a number of others in the vicinity of the town, there is also All Saints Church, just to the north of the town centre.

Trinity Methodist Church

The Grade II listed Trinity Church is traditional in style, with its exterior in Kent ragstone. However, its "crown and lantern" spire is a very unusual feature, shared with two cathedrals — St Giles Cathedral in Edinburgh and Newcastle Cathedral. The interior resembles the design of a traditional parish church, except that the wider nave means that everyone in the congregation has an uninterrupted view of the pulpit - an indication of the importance the church gives to preaching. A new church organ was installed in 1922 - originally built in 1912 for a country mansion in Northamptonshire, it was reconstructed for church use and specially adapted to fit in with the church woodwork. 1991 saw the opening of the church's "Oasis Caf". The exterior of Trinity church forms a distinctive landmark for the town, owing to the prominent position of the church and the rare crown and lantern spire referred to above.[24]

Spire of St Nicholas Anglican church
St Nicholas Church

St Nicholas Church is the oldest of the three town centre churches, and is surrounded by a small ancient graveyard, which is wooded. It also contains some lawned areas with benches. Two well used public footpaths run through these grounds. It is in ecumenical partnership with other denominations and in a Team Ministry with other Anglican churches. The present building, which is listed, stands on a site that has been used as a church since Saxon times - an earlier, smaller church occupied the site until the nineteenth century, which apart from its baptismal piscina (font) was replaced by the present church building, which was consecrated in February 1864. It was designed by Edwin Nash, an architect involved in church restoration, whose son lived in Sutton Common Road. The vestry on the north side of the chancel was added in the late 19th century, as was the church's stained glass.[25][26]

In 2014 the church is celebrating its 150th anniversary with an exhibition and public talks about its history.[27]

Sutton Baptist Church

In contrast to the other two town centre churches, the Baptist Church is relatively modern—it was designed by the architect Nugent Cachemaille-Day (1896-1976) using mainly traditional materials, such as brick and tile, in a style influenced by the Arts and Crafts Movement. Built by Messrs. Pitchers Ltd. of Holloway, the church took little more than half-a-year to build, commencing in January 1934 and opening in September the same year, and its notable design aroused interest not only locally, but in church and architectural circles nationwide. The church is considered one of the best examples of a contemporary brick building in the Borough of Sutton. The bold design has imposing proportions with long walls and concave sweeps in the moderne style. The windows are in simple clean lines, in a simplified Gothic style. The interior is considered equally dramatic, with much exposed brickwork and sweeping pointed arches, which are highlighted by the directions in which the bricks are laid, and its clean simplicity is in tune with the ideals of the Arts and Crafts Movement, referred to above, as well as the later modern architectural movements.[28]

Interior of All Saints Church
All Saints Church

Just to the north of Sutton town centre in All Saints Road is All Saints Church, Benhilton. Its parish was created in 1863, and the foundation stone of the grade II* listed building was laid in the same year, designed by Samuel Teulon. The building owed much to Thomas Alcock who was then lord of the manor and gave £18,000 towards the building, plus the land for the church, the vicarage and a school. The church was conceived as an amenity for an estate of upper class Victorian housing which Alcock was developing on the land to the east.

The nave and south aisle were finished first, the tower and chancel were added in 1867, while the north aisle was not fully roofed until 1906. The church has always been noted for its bells; the first was the tenor bell, which was presented by Thomas Alcock and was rung on the day the church was consecrated. The framework for a complete peel was fixed in the tower in 1877. Another bell was added the same year, and a third the year after. There were six by 1882 and all eight had been inaugurated by 1893.[29][30]

Green spaces[edit]

Sutton Green - western edge

In addition to the St Nicholas church grounds, there are two larger areas of green space within the town centre:

Sutton Green is located at the lower (northern) end of the high street, near All Saints Church. It is bordered by a row of detached Victorian villas on one side, and by the high street on the other.

Manor Park is situated opposite the police station. The park was officially opened by the Chairman of the then Sutton Urban District Council in 1914, and its iconic water fountain was added in 1924-5.[31]

Fountain in Manor Park, Sutton town centre

Manor park is also the site of the Sutton War Memorial. The memorial consists of a large ornamental cross on a plinth. 524 men who died in the First World War are commemorated on the memorial. In addition, it has four panels, one containing an inscription, the other three containing the emblems representing the Army, Navy and R.A.F.

The inscription reads:

This sign of the great sacrifice is raised in honour of OUR HEROIC DEAD, who gave their lives for England in the Great War. Their name liveth for evermore

There are also four angels on the plinth overlooking the park.[32]

Just to the north of central Sutton there is more extensive green space in the form of Sutton Common, which originally (until the beginning of the nineteenth century) encompassed Sutton Green.[33] Today a portion of the Common houses a major junior tennis facility. The Common is situated both to the east and west of Angel Hill.

Slightly further in the opposite direction out of the town lies Banstead Downs — this starts a few hundred yards from the southern end of Sutton, and extends for around a mile further south towards neighbouring Banstead.

In addition, Sutton contains four Local Nature Reserves.[34] Anton Crescent Wetland has ponds, willow carr and reedbeds, and the ponds never dry out as the rock formation is Oxford Clay. The pools and mud provide a habitat for birds such as the green sandpiper and common snipe. Belmont Pastures is a long narrow triangle north of Belmont railway station. It is an old meadow which formerly belonged to Belmont Hospital. Cuddington Meadows is mainly chalk grassland with some scrub. Its most important feature is a variety of unusual flowering plants, including greater knapweed, lady's bedstraw and field scabious. Devonshire Avenue Nature Area is mainly neutral grassland, but it has areas of chalk grassland, scrub and trees. A notable species is the small blue butterfly, which is rare in the borough. Plants include the nationally scarce ivy broomrape, and kidney vetch and bird's-foot trefoil.[35]


Sutton is considered to be a culturally vibrant town[5] and its features include a range of public art, a large library, a music venue and a cinema and theatre. It is also a filming location for both films and television.

Public art[edit]

Paintings of Sutton's twin towns on the wall of a building in the town centre.
The town centre features six major examples of public art.
Exterior wall art

Three of the six examples are creations on the entire side walls of buildings.

Twin Towns Mural

One consists of a set of seven individual murals on one side wall depicting Sutton's European twin towns: Gagny, a suburb of Paris; Gladsaxe (a suburb of Copenhagen) in Denmark; Minden in Germany; Charlottenburg-Wilmersdorf in Berlin, and Tavernelle, near Florence in Italy. The murals were designed and painted (on to plywood) by professional artists Gary Drostle and Rob Turner and were unveiled in 1993 to commemorate the 25th anniversary of Sutton's twinning with Wilmersdorf.

Each twin town is depicted with its heraldic shield above a painting of the town, showing some of its defining features. Each has a different plant symbolising its environmental awareness. They are inset within seven facsimile window frames positioned along the side of a Victorian commercial building at the southern end of the High Street near the train station at the junction with Sutton Court Road.

Sutton's heritage sites depicted in a 3 storey mosaic, The Heritage Mural
Heritage Mosaic

In addition, there is a large town centre mosaic measuring 9 metres (30 ft) high and 5 metres (16 ft) wide, and covering the whole of another three storey wall in the town square near the Waterstone's bookshop. Commissioned to celebrate Sutton's main heritage sites, the Drostle and Turner mosaic was made from vitreous ceramic tesserae (small tiles made of glass and clay), and put in place in 1994. Consisting of well over 100,000 pieces, the mosaic took over 1,500 hours to design and construct.

It was designed by Rob Turner, and shows several aspects of Sutton's heritage and local history in a classical geometric pattern with nineteen black and white panels set against a multi-colour background. The centre-piece is the depiction of Henry VIII's palace at Nonsuch. Other panels depict armorial bearers from the old local families, as well as industrial and architectural heritage.[36]

Art in Wellesley Road, Sutton
Wellesley Road Mural

There is a third example of such building-height wall art, situated in Wellesley Road, about a hundred yards south of the mainline railway station. It was created by the street artist, Eva Mena, who is from Bilbao in Spain and a leading practitioner in the urban art movement. The mural dates from 2008,[37] and was completed in three days.[38]

It was specially-commissioned by the owner of a cleaning firm keen to promote local art, and depicts an image of Erykah Badu, the American singer-songwriter, record producer, activist and actress. It shows her head, face and shoulders, with beads and multiple bangles which she is wearing held up in front of her, while pink and purple flower petals complete the image. The painting covers the entire side wall of Indepth House, a small office building occupied by the cleaning firm.

The Millennium Dial Armillary

In addition to the wall art, there is a Millennium Dial Armillary, which was dedicated to the town in the year 2000 by the Rotary Club. It is in the form of an historical timepiece, and it serves three purposes: firstly, simply to tell the time; secondly, to commemorate time through various inscriptions including the Rotary motto "Service Above Self" and distances to nearby areas such as Kingston upon Thames; and thirdly, to commemorate the work which the Rotary Club has done.

The Millennium Dial Armillary is a popular feature of the town and continues to provide an iconic focus for the town centre.[39] It will remain as a permanent memorial, marking not just the new millennium but also the central part that the Rotary has played in the welfare of Sutton since 1923.

It was originally installed in the centre of a small "Millennium Garden", but was slightly re-positioned in 2011, since when it has stood on the edge of the new central square in the town, directly in front of the Waterstones bookshop.

David Wynne's The Messenger
Michael Dan Archer's Transpose 2002 at central Sutton approach

Since 1981 two outside sculptures have been installed in and around the town centre.

The Messenger

First, The Messenger statue, a sculpture in bronze with very dark patination completed by David Wynne, OBE in 1981 of a large horse and rider. The horse, with a slightly raised left leg, looks towards the railway station. The rider, seated bareback, raises his left hand in the air above his head and his right hand to his mouth, as if calling. It is fully life-size and mounted on a high (7 foot) plinth of marble and granite slabs. The total height is 150 inches.[40]

It was a major commission for the sculptor, which took four years from his first idea and inspiration on receipt of the brief through roughing out, refining and foundry to the final unveiling and installation.[41] The creation is located directly outside the main entrance to Quadrant House (in the Quadrant), the large office building near Sutton railway station occupied by Reed Business Information, the well-known media publishing company.

Transpose 2002

Secondly, the Transpose 2002 sculpture by Michael Dan Archer, located at the junction of Carshalton Road and Langley Park Road, about 250 yards from the town's historic central crossroads. It is 7 metres (23 feet) in height, 1.5 metres (5 feet) in width and 1.5 metres in depth, and made of Chinese granite and stainless steel.[42] As its name suggests, it dates from 2002. Archer says his sculptures "primarily invoke the massiveness and physicality of stone and its relationship to architecture, humanity and landscape". The design, location and dimensions of Transpose 2002 all combine to make it a significant landmark for those entering Sutton town centre from an easterly direction along Carshalton Road.

Literary facilities[edit]

Sutton Library is situated close to the top of the town, near St Nicholas Church and the Holiday Inn Hotel, and is part of a complex which contains the Civic Offices, home of Sutton Borough Council, and the Sutton College of Liberal Arts. It is the largest library in the borough. Originally opened in 1975, it was extensively refurbished in 2004 to meet changing customer needs. It was the first public library to appoint a library writer-in-residence; the first to establish a CD and video lending library; and the first to offer a full public library service on Sundays.

The library is arranged over four storeys, and the lending and reference facilities extend to a reader's lounge; café and shop; IT facilities; opportunities to listen to music; and a children's library themed around the world's environments. The library aims to focus on the needs of those using its facilities, and to maintain its reputation for breaking new ground. An example of this is the new 3M SelfCheck terminal system, which uses radio frequency identification technology (RFID) to make the library 100% self-service for issuing and returning books, thus freeing up staff to devote more time to giving users a better, more personalised service.[43]

Art exhibitions are held in the library's Europa Gallery.


Sutton is referred to in a rhyme dating back to the 18th century, referring to the time when sheep were grazed there. The rhyme was revised in the Victorian era as:

Sutton for good mutton;

Cheam for juicy beef;
Croydon for a pretty girl
And Mitcham for a thief.[44]

Sutton Life Centre[edit]

The Sutton Life Centre situated in Alcorn Close, just off Sutton Common Road, is an £8 million facility designed to improve life chances for younger people and encourage good citizenship. Its key feature – the lifezone – is a virtual street, a room with screens on all walls using film-set technology to show real-life scenes from Sutton's streets. The Centre also has a library, a cafe, a climbing wall, and community, eco, sports, youth and media zones. The library is designed to be more like a High Street bookshop than a traditional library. It also offers longer opening hours and a self-service facility for borrowing books.[45] The centre tries to encourage community engagement and involvement. It was opened on 27 October 2010 by Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg.[46]

Theatre and cinema[edit]

The Secombe Theatre.

The Secombe Theatre[47] (named after Sir Harry Secombe) is in Cheam Road, adjacent to the Holiday Inn Hotel. The theatre was opened by Sir Harry, who lived in Sutton for over 30 years of his life.[48] The theatre was created in 1984 out of a former Christian Scientist church building originally dating from 1937.[49][50] The main auditorium seats 340, and there is a large multi-purpose function room attached. The Secombe Theatre is operated in conjunction with the Charles Cryer Studio Theatre, named after the man who led the campaign to open the Secombe Theatre. (The Charles Cryer Theatre is in a converted hall in nearby Carshalton). Productions at the Secombe range in content from modern productions to new twists on older more established plays. Some productions are produced locally, while others come as part of touring groups. From time to time comedians and musicians appear at the theatre.


The former Granada Cinema, designed by Robert Cromie, originally opened in the town centre as the Plaza Theatre in Carshalton Road in September 1934 with the films Catherine the Great and Oliver the Eighth. Whilst the Plaza Theatre was built as a cinema, it also had a fully equipped stage and several dressing rooms, and put on pantomimes at Christmas. In common with many cinemas from that era, it has since been demolished (in 1975). The site is currently occupied by the office building, Sutton Park House.[51]

Today, approximately half-a-mile northwest of the former Granada, there is the six-screen Empire Cinema, situated opposite the St. Nicholas Centre shopping centre, to which it is linked by an enclosed, marble-clad walking bridge. It was opened in 1991, at the same time as the Centre.


Along with Wimbledon Studios, Sutton is a hub for filming in south-west London.[7]

The episode The Return of Mr Bean was filmed at department store Allders on its previous site, which is now occupied by Waterstones book shop and others. Furthermore, episodes of The Bill television programme were often filmed in Sutton and nearby Merton. Additionally, the Channel 4 TV show The Games training is filmed at Sutton Arena. The town's football club, Sutton United F.C. have also appeared regularly on adverts from energy drink manufacturers, Lucozade.[52]

The sitcom "Phoneshop" which began in October 2010 and broadcast on E4 is filmed on Sutton High Street. It is based around a fictional phone shop which has had two different locations on the High Street.

A TV commercial for the dating website "", which was first broadcast in August 2011 was filmed at Sutton Railway Station. The 60-second advert featured an encounter between a young man and woman who are on opposite platforms while he sings to her.

A local film maker won the 2014 award in the 16-21 age category at the IAC British International Amateur Film Festival for a short film which he directed.[53][54]

Scenes for the Hollywood film "Black Sea" were shot outside Sutton Grammar School on 1 August 2013. The film, directed by Kevin Macdonald, stars Jude Law, who appears in the scenes getting in and out of a car, while school children walk out of the school in the background.


Sutton Symphony Orchestra[55] was founded in 1946, giving its first concert in November of that year. The orchestra has given an average of three concerts every season and almost every one has featured a solo item. Soloists have included professional musicians living locally, talented students, and members of the orchestra. The majority of concerts take place in Sutton, including at St. Andrew's United Reformed Church, Northey Avenue. There have been two charity concerts, at the Sutton Secombe Centre and the Epsom Playhouse.

The Boom Boom Club in West Sutton hosts regular rock gigs, often by classic rock bands such as Focus and the Strawbs

Historical note: The Rolling Stones[edit]

The first album, issued one year after the Sutton gigs

The Rolling Stones were spotted by a notable music promoter in 1963 at the then Red Lion public house (now the Winning Post) in Sutton High Street. The band played several early gigs there, and it was during an historic performance over half a century ago that the audience included impresario/music manager Giorgio Gomelsky, who spotted and signed the band up for a residency at Richmond's Crawdaddy Club, months before they made the charts and became stars.[56][57][58][59]

It was also at the then Red Lion pub that, on 23 January 1963, Charlie Watts and Bill Wyman became permanent members of the band.[60]

January 23, 1963: Charlie Watts and Bill Wyman become permanent members of the Rolling Stones with this day's gig at the Red Lion Pub in Sutton, Surrey.

In 2011, the Winning Post was added to a list of buildings and structures of local significance.[61][62]


The historic commercial heart of Sutton where the High St crosses Cheam Rd / Carshalton Rd


Sutton is one of the eleven major metropolitan centres identified in the London Plan[3] in a borough that benefits from very low crime by London standards. There are good public transport links through buses and trains and three main public car parks, as well as a "car club"—to reduce the need for local car ownership. Two of the car parks are located near the cinema and shopping area, and the third one, as well as the car club, is located near the main library, hotel and theatre.

Sutton has over 6,800 businesses, an increase of about 19% since 1994.[63] Statistics published in March 2013 by business analysts Duport have found that 863 new companies were formed in Sutton in 2012, the highest number since records began. Most of these are small or medium sized enterprises, but several large businesses, such as Reed Business Information, the well-known media publishing company, are also present and have substantial office space in the town: Reed occupies the large Quadrant House office building adjacent to the mainline station, and is a major local employer. G4S is another significant company in the town, with office accommodation in the large Sutton Park House commercial building opposite Manor Park. Another important business locally is Subsea 7, which is expanding its presence in the town through the construction of new offices, on which building work commenced in Spring 2014.[64] The Royal Marsden Hospital has a longstanding presence in Sutton, on a site at the southern end of the town acquired in 1962.

The non-pedestrianised section of Sutton High Street with the railway station on the right.

There is a town centre manager, who works in partnership with local businesses, the police and transport providers to promote the centre and its economic development. The manager acts as the focal point for putting into effect a range of initiatives funded by the Council and other partners. The initiatives are set out in a Business Plan approved by a representative Town Centre Management Group.[65] "Opportunity Sutton"[66] and Sutton Chamber of Commerce[67] also play a part in promoting economic development in the town.

Town centre regeneration[edit]

Main article: Sutton High Street

Sutton is set to gain hundreds of millions of pounds of investment in new mixed-use schemes in its high street area; one development, Sutton Point, worth around one hundred million pounds was granted planning approval in mid-2013, and developers CNM Estates started work on it in Spring 2014. It will include a hotel, a health club, apartments, shops, restaurants and offices.[64]

Another major development, at the north end of the High Street area, including apartments,a large Sainsbury's supermarket, a mix of retail units and a landscaped square was approved in December 2013 after a public consultation process.[68] Work on site commenced in Spring 2014 for what will constitute the biggest single regeneration of the town centre in a generation.


Main article: Sutton High Street

Retailing has long been a major part of the Sutton economy, with the Victorian-era High Street established for well over one hundred years. Sutton town centre has over four hundred retail outlets occupying more than 120,000 square metres of floor space.[69] It is London's sixth most important retail centre, and attracts shoppers from a wide area. It is often the chosen location for new retail ventures.[70]

Sutton High Street starts at Sutton Green and extends for about a mile up to Sutton mainline railway station, just beyond the junction with Grove Road. Many of the country's main High Street names are represented in the central area.[71]

In more recent years, the town has gained two covered shopping centres, both of which are situated in the central High Street area. The larger of these is the St. Nicholas Centre with three main levels, and five levels for Debenhams, the main anchor store. It attracts an average of 20,000 visitors per day Monday to Sunday, 35,000 on Saturday, and twice these figures during December.[72] Times Square is the smaller of the two.[73] It opened in 1985, and was granted planning approval for a refit in June 2014 - this is expected to attract further major high street names.[74]

French restaurant in Sutton High St.

Sutton also has a number of restaurants, patisseries, coffee bars, gastro pubs, clubs and bars, including the country's first branch of All Bar One.[75] The central area is pedestrianised during shopping hours, and the extra space encourages cafes, pubs and restaurants to provide pavement seating. Sutton's range of restaurants has expanded in recent years, and now includes examples of French, Spanish, British, Mexican, Malaysian, Thai, Pakistani, Portuguese and Turkish cuisine, as well as the more longstanding presence of Italian, Indian and Chinese establishments.[76][77] These include a French restaurant that is listed in The Good Food Guide[78] and is Michelin-listed.[79]

Bookshop in Sutton High St.

There are also a number of book retailers in the town centre, including Waterstones [80] and W H Smith.

As well as public art (described in the Culture section above), there is also a Green Wall, designed both for aesthetic reasons and to improve air quality and encourage biodiversity. This "vertical garden" covers the façade of a large High Street store, and is in bloom all year round.[81]

The high street and town square also host street performers whose range includes live music, arts and theatre. In addition, markets are held from time to time, including French, Italian and Continental markets, as well as arts and crafts fairs.[71] In August and September the high street plays host to the outdoor "Sunset Cinema," where popular films are shown in the evening after the shops have closed to an audience seated in deckchairs.[82]


Within the town of Sutton, there are three railway stations.

Sutton station is the town's major station, from where frequent direct trains run to several main central London stations − London Victoria, London Bridge, Blackfriars, City Thameslink and, for Eurostar services, St. Pancras International. The station is served by both First Capital Connect (for Thameslink) and Southern Railway.

The fastest of the Victoria-bound trains from Sutton station take 25 minutes (stopping only at Clapham Junction). As well as these direct trains to central London, there are also direct services to destinations outside central London including Banstead, Dorking, Epsom, Horsham, Leatherhead, West Croydon, Wimbledon, Luton and St Albans.

West Sutton and Sutton Common are both on the First Capital Connect lines to Wimbledon and on to central London direct. Being on the Thameslink line, they continue on to stations both within and the other side of London.

Local bus services are operated by London General, Epsom Coaches (Quality Line), Abellio London and Metrobus. There are also express coach services to both London Heathrow Airport and London Gatwick Airport.[83][84]

There are many designated cycle routes in Sutton, along with links to neighbouring towns.[85]

As of mid-2014, a consultation was taking place into options for the route of a proposed Tramlink extension from Wimbledon to Sutton, with one option being to run the line down Sutton High Street.[86][87]

Notable individuals[edit]

A portrait of Quintin Crisp, who was born in Sutton
The young Rolling Stones

See London Borough of Sutton for complete borough-wide list. The individuals listed below are specifically linked to the town of Sutton.


Sutton High School for Girls, Cheam Road

Sutton is the principal town in the London Borough of Sutton, a grammar school stronghold and a top performing borough for education, which has come first or second in the national league tables in recent years. The town is home to a significant number of the borough's schools, including one of its boys' grammar schools, its boys' preparatory school and its girls' private secondary school. The town's schools are as follows:

Primary schools

  • All Saints Benhilton, C of E Primary
  • Brookfield Primary School
  • Avenue Primary
  • Devonshire Primary
  • Homefield Preparatory School
  • Manor Park Primary
  • Robin Hood Infants
  • Robin Hood Junior
  • Westbourne Primary

Secondary schools

For more detailed information about performance see London Borough of Sutton, but, in brief, the key points are:

  • The Borough came top of the England GCSE league tables in 2011 on the key benchmark – the percentage of pupils achieving five good GCSEs (A* to C) including English and Mathematics.[91]
  • In 2013 Sutton's GCSE performance was second across all borough's in England (The Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea was first).[92]
  • Sutton’s primary schools were described as ‘particularly impressive’ by Ofsted in December 2013. It ranked Sutton borough’s primary schools at joint first in London.[93]


Association football club Sutton United F.C. play in the Conference South league at Step 6 of the Football system, and famously beat Coventry City 2–1 in the FA Cup in 1989. Coventry City were then in Division 1 and winners of the contest two seasons previous. Sutton United's ground is in Gander Green Lane.

Sutton Cricket Club is based in Cheam Road. The Club’s 1st XI plays at the highest level of the sport available to it, the England and Wales Cricket Board’s ‘Surrey Championship Premier Division’ which they won in 2009. The club’s 2nd and 3rd teams also play at the highest level available to them, the ‘Surrey Championship 2nd XI and 3rd XI Premier Divisions’ with the 2nd XI having been league winners in 2009.[citation needed]


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Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]